Today, we made a return to some of the topics last week concerning politically-minded cinema. In the screening, we watched the famous 1966 film, Battle of the Algiers, directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. This black and white drama deals with the rising independence movement in Morroco during the time against French colonial rule. The film has a documentary aesthetic to it, very raw and often up close to our characters, mainly Moroccan, as we see them fight, banding together to form a guerilla terrorist cell within the community in Algiers, and launch a series of attacks upon the white populous. This is very fitting, as the film often focuses on the unpleasant aspects of fighting for our ideals and the immense sacrifices, often morally challenging, required.
Afterwards, this lead into a discussion on Colonialism, a battle between two cultures and the divide that arises from that, which was starting die out by the time Algiers was made, with more and more countries gaining independence, primarily from ´´Old World´´ powers like France and the UK. One such filmmaker to be birthed from this transitional era was Ousmane Sembene, often hailed as the ´the father of African Cinema´. His 1975 satire The Curse looks at such a transitional phase over in Africa, with the old colonial government being ousted and instead an all black entity takes control, though frankly, their behaviour seems to differ little, wearing suits, carrying briefcases and driving around in limousines.
The seminar furthered this discussion, going into ideas like ´trans-nationalism´ i.e. being beyond a set nationality, especially now in an age of global and instant communication (for example, despite being an American creation, The Simpsons are animated over in South Korea) and geopolitics (pretty self explanatory) before then briefly moving into ´video art´, a movement that arised out of the 90s digital and tech boom, where filmmakers could make shorts to perhaps discuss some kind of idea or belief without the exuberant costs of old, and on a more universal format. Modern equivalents of that include the Britain is Not Eating short film discussed on this blog before.
And well, that´s that. Though it was interesting to return to the topic of colonialism, and certainly the use of film as both commentary and propaganda is a fascinating topic,there was little new ground covered it, and as seems to be a recurring point, felt like a refresher on old ground, with the mention of African cinema being perhaps the only new element here.